GROVE — Dave and Beverly Helms have fitted prosthetic limbs for war veterans, diabetics, athletes and one active four-legged client.
Dave Helms has incorporated the latest in technology of carbon fiber construction, epoxy resin and titanium components to create a prosthetic to meet the daily needs of a growing 143-pound female alpaca named Cornucopia.
This will be Cornucopia's second prosthesis.
The first was made when she was a baby, but because of its deterioration, a second prosthesis is needed.
“I like a challenge,” Helms said.
The prosthesis was handmade by Grand Prosthetics and Orthotics LightWeight Artificial Limbs & Braces in Grove.
Dave and Beverly Helms and their adult son, Andy, all had a part of making the alpaca's prosthetics.
Their son, Troy, 14, photographed every step of the process.
Helms, a U.S. Air Force veteran with 40 years of prosthetic experience, also created a custom lower limb prosthesis for a crown crane at the Waco Zoo.
Cornucopia was born Nov. 13, 2006. She belongs to Michael and Sherry Alpert, of Oklahoma City, who own and operate Awesome Acres 'Pacas & Pyrs.
“From all appearances, she was normal, healthy and very active,” Beverly Helms said.
When Cornucopia was about 2 weeks old, it became evident she was not carry any weight on her left foreleg, Helms said.
Her owners assumed she stepped in a hole on their Oklahoma City ranch and broke her leg, she said.
The animal was taken to Oklahoma State University's veterinary teaching hospital to be examined.
X-rays showed the white furry alpaca had two broken bones in her foot and ankle.
Parts of Cornucopia's left leg were amputated, leaving her with a stump.